Claiming only one gymnastics gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics was one of the biggest disappointments for the Chinese team, traditionally a gymnastics powerhouse.
This time around, the team, led by world champions Cheng Fei and Yang Wei, has vowed to reassert itself on the world stage.
"I'm sure that we will win more than one gold this year," said Huang Yubin, head coach of China's gymnastics team.
"If we win only one gold again, I will jump off the highest building," he joked.
With a large medal haul in its sights, the Chinese team has named a star-studded roster. Joining Yang on the men's team will be Sydney 2000 double Olympic champion Li Xiaopeng, rings world champion Chen Yibing and pommel horse world champion Xiao Qin.
Yang, a two-time all-around world champion, is the hot favorite for gold in that event. With American defending Olympic champion Paul Hamm backing out of Beijing with an injury, few will be able to challenge the 28-year-old veteran.
"Victory at the Games depends on how we can perform on the Olympic court," Yang said. "The Olympic gold is my ultimate goal. Everything is going well with my preparations at present."
The parallel bars and team Olympic champion Li will not compete in the vault, his specialty, in Beijing. He will instead focus on defending his gold on parallel bars.
Individual gold medals will be welcomed, but the men are more focused on winning the team gold.
"Our first goal is to win the team gold, which will make our individual events easier," Yang said.
China's men's team won the team gold at Sydney in 2000, but settled for fifth four years later in Athens.
Cheng, the triple gold medalist at the 2006 World Championships, will lead the women's side with her veteran presence, but some of the younger gymnasts will be contenders as well.
Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin will cause trouble for American all-around world champion Shawn Johnson, while He Kexin is a favorite on uneven bars.
The balance beam always poses problems for China, but Li Shanshan, the 2007 Worlds runner-up, should be able to challenge US world champion Anastasia Liukin. Deng Linlin, whose first international competition was in March, is also strong on the beam.
Although these young gymnasts are good enough to win Olympic medals, their age has been the subject of much debate recently. Some international media organizations have raised questions about the ages of He and Jiang, specifically.
But team officials have guaranteed the gymnasts are old enough to compete.
"Our Olympic squads were recently named and we registered their ages according to their ID cards and other legal documents presented by their regional gymnastics associations, which show they all are over the minimum age for the Olympics," said Zhang Peiwen, manager of the Chinese national gymnastics team.
Choosing to ignore the concerns, the team is instead
focusing on training to get prepared for what lies ahead.
"After years of preparation, the key task in the last few days is to make up all the weak points," said head coach Huang. "We have to find every possible problem that may happen at the Games to ensure stable performances.
"Through the World Championships in these two years, we have proved our power. We are stepping forward to our goal."
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）